Vogue’s “healthy body” initiative makes porn look healthier than Vogue

by Violet Blue on June 8, 2012

As you might (or might not) have heard, in early May the editors of all nineteen international editions of Vogue Magazine signed off on an agreement – of sorts – for what they called the Health Initiative. This, they said, was a commitment to no longer use unhealthy body images for the models in their magazines. In all June issues they have each run a photo editorial representing healthy, natural and diverse bodies.

The above photo is from Vogue Germany’s June issue: the “Naked Truth” editorial features eleven German women of varying ages in intimate portraits as part of the health initiative to promote healthy body image.

The primary focus, they said in a joint statement from all editors, was to ban the use of models who suffer from eating disorders, or models that appear to encourage anorexic body images, or are younger than 16 years of age. The final point in their pledge was to discourage designers to showcase items in really small sizes, and discourage designers from “the use of extremely thin models.”

The different magazines’ covers for June are not as hypocritical, but I was struck by this pictorial in particular. The porn performers and adult models I feature regularly on these pages look far more healthy and not nearly as perilously thin as the women in this shoot. I mean no offense to these models, or anyone that has this body type. Granted, I do purposely select adult businesses, scenes, galleries and performers that show healthier bodies than fashion magazines and the wider porn market as a rule. Frankly, it’s what you, the reader, have demanded over the past 11 years of my curation on this blog. I still think most of the porn models (like Met Art‘s) are too thin, but they’re not as intense-looking as the women in Vogue’s healthy bodies Germany spread. I would never use an image like the ones I’ve just seen in Vogue’s “healthy body” showcase because my readers would not only complain, but because the viewer might be inclined to think the girls depicted were desperate, leading lives at the bottom, possibly on drugs, and might be abused or coerced to do porn.

Make no mistake: I have *no* problems whatsoever finding healthy looking, non-starving-looking porn performers and models.

It’s just a very bizarre thing in and of itself – my Eye Candy porn picks have healthier looking women than Vogue. And I may need to come back and stuff this photo below the fold because I worry it’ll scare off my readers, or worse – be misinterpreted as erotic imagery that I endorse.

In contrast, here’s Plus Magazine’s hot January issue.

Violet Blue

The London Times named Violet Blue "One of the 40 bloggers who really count" and Self Magazine named TinyNibbles one of the “Best Sex Resources for Women.” Blue is an autodidact and pundit on sex and technology, hacking and security, porn for women, privacy and bleeding-edge tech culture. She is a journalist for ZDNet, CBS News, CNET; she's an educator, speaker, crisis counselor, volunteer NGO trainer, and the author and editor of over 40 award-winning books.

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{ 10 comments }

1 Countess Zero June 13, 2012 at 3:31 pm

I’m a recovering anorexic too, and I have to say that this site has helped me feel okay with both my body and the concept of gaining weight. True, some of the girls Violet posts are thin, but more than anything seeing them along side larger girls has made me appreciate the wide variety of body types out there and generally feel more comfortable with my own. And at any rate, the thinnest girls on this site don’t even come close to the models I see in fashion magazines.

And I agree with JoJo–I don’t mind there being a higher percentage of fit girls in porn.

2 Marina June 10, 2012 at 6:06 pm

sigh.

I look like this. I also eat cake. It’s 100% genetic and has caused me no end of turmoil. I get stared at on a daily basis and accused regularly of being anorexic. I’ve had to explain to my perfectly healthy wife who DID develop an eating disorder because she felt that she looked fat beside me that no, she can never look like me because I don’t choose to look like me. My physician has declared me the healthiest person she has ever seen and none of my relatives have died before 95.

And then there are articles like this that have to explicitly state that they mean no offense to people like me because they’re implicitly offensive to people like me. Maybe think what it’s like to have to walk around being taller than most men and have people ask if you’re trans because of it. Or how about what it’s like to have people assume you’re going to the washroom to vomit that doughnut you just ate. Or to have to make a choice between something that will fit you like a sack and actually cover you or something that won’t hang off your shoulders but will leave your midriff bare. Can’t we just say that being oddly-shaped sucks without shaming the poor girls who are chosen to be some designers’ coat-rack with loaded words like “unhealthy”?

3 JoJo June 9, 2012 at 6:34 pm

My two cents about Michelle’s comment is that I’m a 230 lb guy who wishes he were 190, working on it, and aspiring to look more like the people I see in Eye Candy. I’m not so terribly interested in seeing naked people who are out of shape and overweight (like me) just because I can identify with them. I have a fantasy (duh — isn’t that what we are into here) that I’ll get back to fighting weight and I need all the inspiration I can get. I’m not offended by healthy, attractive, muscular, fit, guys and girls being idolized a little bit, and I don’t get why anybody else would be, either. Just sayin’.

4 Daniel June 9, 2012 at 5:32 am

Most importantly, a big compliment to Violet for addressing this issue. It’s a challenging one, whether the context is general health or sexuality.

We’re a fitness challenged society, yet in the world of media/imagery, the other extreme (at least for women) of obsessive thinness is another problem.

Violet’s choice to mostly feature fit but not ridiculously thin models is a fine balance. Her point in this post isn’t outlandish: Vogue’s choice of models is far more “obscene” than porn.

5 aga June 9, 2012 at 2:48 am

While I love your blog, Violet, as it contains a huge amount of information ranging from the vital to the bizarre, I have to agree somewhat with Michelle. I do find a lot of the models you feature looking rather generic (obviously with exceptions of the many ‘alt’ & tattooed girls you regularly feature who are my personal favourite), and often similar in terms of their facial features and body shapes. That’s the majority from the more professional websites who share these kinds of aesthetics, but you do deserve a massive credit for continually supporting diverse sites such as I Shot Myself etc., so I’d say you feature a mix with many slight and largely lacking flaws, but nonetheless beautiful, ladies for our deilght.

While I’m going on, can I also add that I’m a recovering anorexic so I would be quite touchy about body shapes I see as I now have a BMI of 19 instead of 17 which frustrates me. The ‘healthy’ me does not resemble the models I find attractive. and quickly, no, ‘the media’ is not to blame for the way I feel before anyone comes up with that tired old misconception!

At the same time I would like to say that being thin should not render anyone ill and the contiual comments of the ‘have a burger’ nature are deeply offensive. On a healthy, normal diet I stayed only just underweight for about five years (with cheese and all!) and kept being told by strangers they wouldn’t shag me as I had no ass (moreover, I didn’t even offer!), which wasn’t exactly a confidence boost. All women deserve to feel sexy and attractive regardless of their weight, truly, there are other factors that determine one’s weight apart from Eating Disorders. Last remark: the vast majority of sufferers are of normal or slightly higher than average weight!

Apologies for going off on one here (please don’t feel like this coment needs aproving, I have no filter in my mind so blurt random nonsense out at every opportunity!), but I thought it was relevant. I still think this is a fantastic site and I’ll curb my comments in the future :)

6 Justin June 9, 2012 at 2:43 am

Violet has done a number of posts promoting Plus models, which I’ve very much enjoyed, among other links to photo sets of quite curvy women. Yes, lots of women in porn are idealised, but sex appeal is much more front and center in porn than in fashion, the woman in the main photo would probably be welcome on any runway, but I imagine a number of porn directors would say she’s too skinny.

7 Deutsch frauen June 8, 2012 at 10:46 pm

Don’t think that this cover photo is suitable for worlwide journal. Little girls see this skinny woman and thinks that they should starve (maybe become an anorexic) to be beautifull..

8 violet blue June 8, 2012 at 6:43 pm

Michelle, I find it “hysterical” that you’ve left a comment on my blog talking to the world *about me* as if I’m not even here. However, I did approve you for commenting because I value diverse opinions, especially ones that disagree with my own.

::sigh

9 Michelle June 8, 2012 at 2:48 pm

I think it is hysterical that Violet thinks she is linking to pictures, etc. of healthy looking women! 99% of the women look like they are starving, in my opinion. I find it very unappealing and counterproductive to looking erotic or attractive whatsoever. I am a size 16, and the closest size I see in any picture shared is around maybe a size 4. So whatever.

10 Justin June 8, 2012 at 1:05 pm

I don’t think you’ll need to put it below the fold, the post title plus the style and look of the photo point towards “fashion magazine” not “hubba hubba”.

And while I try to be an equal-oppurtunity kind of guy, I’m not sure I could talk to that woman without trying to load her plate with some actual food to prevent her starving to death, it’s just so far outside what I actually see on an average day as “normal”. Perhaps fashion editors see So many models every day, their scale is still skewed?

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